Tablet Buying Guide: The Android Market

Believe it or not but there are literally hundreds of Android based tablets available today and only 3 of them are from ‘big’ contenders (Apple, Samsung and soon Motorola). But head to China and to the nearest electronics market or “Computer City” and you will find an Aladdin’s Cave of locally made Android tablets.
You don’t need to head all the way to China though to be inundated with a vast array of reasonably priced tablets, however just searching for ‘Android Tablet’ on Ebay will bring up a huge number of tablets from various unknown factories and sellers.

So, what should you look out for when you buy?

Never fear! AOST are here! Every few days (everyday if you’re lucky :)) we’ll add an article or two to help you to understand some of the jargon involved with Android tablets, what to look out for and what question you should ask when buying.

First up: The Android Market.

The Android Market or Official Android Market is the market place Google have set up for developers to either freely distribute or sell their applications to Android device users (Android phones and tablets).
A lot of the Google based applications (apps) that you are bound to want are only officially available through the Android Market Place such as Google Maps, Google Goggles, Google Books and many excellent third party apps and games such as Roxio’s Angry Birds.
Even if your Android tablet already has these great applications pre-installed, you will only be able to update them (and they will need upgrading) using the Android Market.

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Unfortunately for us it is very tricky to personally add the Google Market.apk (apk is the file type Android Apps are saved) to your Android device. Meaning if you do end up getting a tablet (or phone) without the Android Store installed you will either have to:

  1. Go through a complicated process of ‘hacking’ the system, which in turn will break the end user agreement with Google!
  2. Learn to live without it 🙁

Fortunately there are ways of loading apk files (Android apps) to your device without the market, and we’ll go through them on AOST in coming weeks, but if you want those fantastic and most importantly FREE Google applications it would be better to have the Official Market App.

So, the next time you see the Android Tablet bargain of the century for sale online, take a moment to quiz the reseller about whether the Google Market (in English) is installed, or you could be in for a very steep learning curve which isn’t entirely in the spirit of the easy to use nature of a tablet device.

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